Unpredictable UK weather drives consumers online

Online retail grew 16.8% year-on-year during the first half of 2018, according to the latest Capgemini IMRG eRetail Sales Index, making this the highest average H1 year-on-year growth since 2011.

While the UK was battered by freak snowstorms as well as an unseasonably hot April, consumers avoided the high street and instead turned to online to do their shopping.

Consumers were also spending more online in the first half of the year, with average basket value at £94.

While the Beast from the East caused a footfall decline on the high street, as the UK began to bask in sunshine between April and June, online retail sales still continued to grow at 18.2% year-on-year for Q2 2018.

The health & beauty sector reported its best growth with 18.6% increase for Q1 and a subsequent 16.8% growth in Q2. But consumers chose 2018 to start shopping for gardening products online, with the sector reporting a year-on-year growth of 24.9% (33.7% growth during the sunny Q2). Clothing also enjoyed consistent growth with a H1 average of 17.1% year-on-year.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, explained: “The performance for online sales in the first half of the year has been a lot stronger than anticipated. There are a number of factors that may be influencing that – the extreme weather events (both hot and cold), the Royal Wedding, World Cup etc – and it might be possible that the feel-good elements associated with some of those events has encouraged people to spend a bit beyond their means.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini, added: “The year started with a lot of doom and gloom and uncertainty around retail. What has been encouraging is how well online retail has performed in H1, particularly in seasonal categories like clothing and garden. These two sectors have delivered higher basket values (+38.0% and + 19.6% year-on-year respectively), with consumers becoming impulsive in their purchases as they refreshed summer wardrobes and prepared for more time spent outside.”

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